x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Invention meets necessity at summit

Away from the big-names exhibitor such as Masdar, smaller firms are showing how enterprise and ideas are fuelling a greener future.

From a waste disposal unit that crushes rubbish with air to shopping bags made from potatoes, the World Future Energy Summit is a hive of invention. Away from the big-names exhibitor such as Masdar, smaller firms are showing how enterprise and ideas are fuelling a greener future. Mil-tek Middle East, based in Jebel Ali, holds the worldwide patent on air-operated balers that can crush cardboard, plastic, expandable polystyrene, metal cans and food waste. The baler sorts the rubbish into easily recycled bundles or, in the case of food waste, to be used as compost.

Air from a small electric compressor operates a piston inside the baler. Because there are no gears or hydraulics involved, the machine is 60 per cent more energy-efficient than others on the market. "We only use air for pressing the waste so it's very good for industries like the hotel and food industries where a lot of waste would be generated," said Mark Laird, the company's managing director. Last October, the Ministry of Environment and Water announced plans to ban all non-biodegradable plastic bags from 2013, and now the race is on to supply alternatives.

The Swiss firm BioApply is the summit's official supplier of biodegradable bags, and uses potato and corn-starch molecules in its products. Michel Pikhanov, the company's sales director, said the organic bags could decompose in 12 weeks, compared with more than 400 years for the common variety. Employees from the South Korean firm Kyungwon Enterprise, are displaying a model of their detergentless washing machine, which as well as using no chemicals also needs less water.

pmcmillan@thenational.ae